MTN falls for Melaye, admits it laundered billions of dollars

MTN has finally owned up to an allegation raised on the Senate floor by Senator Dino Melaye.

Melaye had accused MTN of money laundering. The telecom firm had flatly denied Melaye’s stance.

The Senate Committee on Banks, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions began investigating the the purported fraudulent movement of more than $13.9 billion out of the country.

The telecom company told the committee that circumstances compelled it to move funds without observing the law.

The Senate had on September 27, 2016, alleged that MTN connived with the Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, to move the money out of the country without the required authorization.

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Senator Dino Melaye had said MTN failed to obtain a certificate of capital importation (CCI) as authorized by CBN before moving the money out of the country.

He also said the repatriation was done through four banks: Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Diamond Bank and Citi Bank.

MTN’s the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Fedi Moolman, admitted that the company moved funds fraudulently.

Nevertheless, he stated that the action was taken without any deliberate intention to flout Nigerian laws.

Moolman said: “There was no intention to flout the rule and regulation.

“The 24-hour rule is not in all cases practicable and it is almost impossible to comply with.”

The CEO further told the committee that MTN meant well for Nigeria, saying that MTN solely contributed 3.4% of Nigeria’s GDP in the first quarter of 2006 and had since its advent in Nigeria employed 500,000 Nigerians directly and indirectly.

Mr. Pascal Dozie, Chairman of Diamond Bank, denied the allegation of illegal repatriation by MTN.

He argued that MTN had invested $16 billion in Nigeria within 16 years.

He said the money imported to Nigeria was done in three tranches as he insisted that the allegation by the Senate “was completely false.”

The CEO of Stanbic IBTC, Olayinka Sani, said his bank was ready to co-operate with the committee in its investigation.

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Also, the Managing Director of Citibank, Akin Daodu, said the bank had never been involved in any illegal repatriation of funds as he disclosed that Citibank had issued 46 CCIs on behalf of MTN so far.

Melaye drew Daodu’s attention to the document his bank had earlier submitted to the committee where.

The document had stated that “MTN didn’t request for CCI’s to be issued until more than the 24 hours,” required to issue the CCIs.

Against this background, Daodu went mute, moreso after Melaye reminded him that he was making his submissions under oath.